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  • VICTORIAN FASHION SHOOTS AND MORE AT BONHAMS

    A photograph by Lady Clementina Hawarden. None of the images is captioned. (Click to enlarge). UPDATE: THE ARCHIVE MADE £115,250.

    Some of the earliest photographs of Victorian women will come under the hammer at Bonhams on March 19. Taken by Lady Clementina Hawarden, whose passion for photography began in Ireland in 1857, they represent some of the earliest fashion shoots. Using her daughters as models she explored identity, otherness, the doppelgänger and female sexuality. This progressive work by an artist whose images are otherwise not available will be sold in London on March 19 with an estimate of £100,000-150,000.
    On offer is 37 albumen prints, a pair of pencil sketches of her and her husband and 15 associated albumen prints. Born in Scotland in 1822 Clemetina was the third of five children of a British father, Admiral Charles Elphinstone Fleeming (1774-1840), and a Spanish mother, Catalina Paulina Alessandro (1800-1880). In 1845 she married Cornwallis Maude, an Officer in the Life Guards. In 1856 Maude’s father, Viscount Hawarden, died and his title, and considerable wealth, passed to Cornwallis.
    Surviving photographs suggest that Clementina, now Lady Hawarden, began to take photographs on the Hawarden’s Irish estate at Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, from late 1857. Many of these were taken with a stereoscopic camera. The collection contains several Dundrum images which are one of the pair that comprise a stereoscopic image. In 1859 the family acquired a London home at 5 Princes Gardens and from 1862 onwards Lady Hawarden used the entire first floor of the property as a studio. She exhibited, and won silver medals, in the 1863 and 1864 exhibitions of the Photographic Society, and was admired by both Oscar Rejlander, and Lewis Carroll who acquired five images which went into the Gernsheim Collection and are now in Texas. In 1865 Lady Hawarden died, and although her loss was regretted in the photographic journals, her work was soon forgotten.
    In 1939 her granddaughter presented the V&A with 779 photographs, most of which had been roughly torn from their original albums with significant losses to corners. Proper examination, and appreciation of this gift, was delayed by World War Two, and it was not until the 1980s that detailed appraisal and catalogue of the V&A holdings. This comprises almost the entire body of Hawarden’s surviving work apart from the five images now in Texas, and small groups or single images at Bradford, Musée d’Orsay and the Getty. Bonhams say the appearance of the present collection is totally unexpected.

    UPDATE: THE ARCHIVE MADE £115,250.

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